Tactile Perception of Spatial Stimuli on the Lip Surface by Young and Older Adults Although older adults are subject to both subtle changes and major disorders of the oral sensorimotor system, relatively little is known about oral sensory function in old age. Accurate assessment of oral tactile perception is needed to document disability, aid prognosis, and plan treatment for older adults with disorders affecting ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1996
Tactile Perception of Spatial Stimuli on the Lip Surface by Young and Older Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amy B. Wohlert
    Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Amy B. Wohlert, PhD, Department of Audiology & Speech Sciences, Purdue University, 1353 Heavilon Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Email: wohlert@purdue.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1996
Tactile Perception of Spatial Stimuli on the Lip Surface by Young and Older Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1996, Vol. 39, 1191-1198. doi:10.1044/jshr.3906.1191
History: Received April 26, 1996 , Accepted July 18, 1996
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1996, Vol. 39, 1191-1198. doi:10.1044/jshr.3906.1191
History: Received April 26, 1996; Accepted July 18, 1996

Although older adults are subject to both subtle changes and major disorders of the oral sensorimotor system, relatively little is known about oral sensory function in old age. Accurate assessment of oral tactile perception is needed to document disability, aid prognosis, and plan treatment for older adults with disorders affecting speech or feeding. However, normative information currently available for older adults is mainly based on two-point discrimination, a problematic measure of tactile spatial resolution. Grating orientation discrimination, a technique developed to provide a clear and reliable measure of spatial resolution, was used to test sensitivity of the upper and lower lip vermilion, on right and left sides, in a sample of 40 young adults and 40 adults age 66–85. Results indicated that spatial acuity at the lip vermilion declines significantly in old age and that women tend to have better acuity than men. No significant differences were found in acuity between the upper and lower lips or between right and left sides for either age group. Peripheral changes in receptor density and lip tissue composition are suggested as likely causes for the age-related decline.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by a grant from the Showalter Trust. I thank Susannah Andre, Tisha Kauffman, and Lisa Spells for recruiting and testing the experimental subjects. A portion of these results was presented at the Conference on Motor Speech, February, 1996.
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